Netflix announced some incredible news yesterday: the company will be offering unlimited parental leave for the first year of a child’s life. Here’s the announcement from the Netflix blog:
“Today we’re introducing an unlimited leave policy for new moms and dads that allows them to take off as much time as they want during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption.
We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances. Parents can return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed. We’ll just keep paying them normally, eliminating the headache of switching to state or disability pay. Each employee gets to figure out what’s best for them and their family, and then works with their managers for coverage during their absences.”
The first year after having a child is emotionally and financially draining. Attempting to juggle the exhaustion of being a new parent with the demands of work is almost impossible, as is affording full-time daycare for a newborn. Many new parents do everything they can to avoid financial ruin during that difficult time when they are caring for a new child. I was pitching stories from my hospital bed, the day after I gave birth. Our culture demands that we overlook the fact that it’s nearly impossible to take time off to care for our new children, because there is virtually no financial support for new parents. There is no government mandated paid maternity or paternity leave. Only a select few workers who are employed by companies with parental leave get any help at all.
Some of the reactions to the announcement do a great job of illustrating how little we understand the importance of parental leave, or what it even is. We are the only developed nation that does not guarantee paid parental leave. Because that’s the way it’s always been, many people believe that’s the way it should be. But why? Why would anyone ever have an objection to a new parent being supported? Negative reactions to the Netflix announcement offer a little insight…
“So what happens when someone pops out a baby annually? There should really be a cap. Being an expecting mother, maternity leave is appreciated; however, a year is ridiculous in my opinion.”
The UK guarantees 39 weeks of paid leave for mothers, two of which are mandatory. Australia offers 18 weeks. Canada offers a year. In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave. According to a Pew study, France, Germany, Hungary and Finland, offered a median of 13 months of protective leave for new mothers. The rest of the developed world doesn’t seem to think extended time off for new parents is “ridiculous.” Implying that people will “pop out babies” to get a little extra time to care for those babies is what’s “ridiculous.”
“I want to know why my husband should pay for others to stay home with their children. It is taking money away from me and our children. If you want me to pay for them, give them to me. Respect me as a stay at home mom. The government is not there to take care of me. The government is we the people. Do you want to pay the female CEO’s salary do she can stay at home with her three babies? I do not. And please do not tell me that it takes two incomes. Have less stuff and more time with your kids.”
Where to begin? 1. Your husband isn’t paying for anything, unless he happens to be the CEO of Netflix. 2. No one is taking money away from you and your children. 3. Netflix is not the government. 4. Most people need two incomes to pay for the necessary “stuff” – you know – food, shelter, clothing. People are so averse to assistance for new families — and so brainwashed by the idea that any kind of government assistance is negative — that they immediately make the leap to “I DON’T WANT MY TAX DOLLARS PAYING FOR THIS” – even when they clearly aren’t. This reaction also begs the question, “Why not?” Why don’t you want your tax dollars paying to help working families?
“It’s their business, they can do whatever they want. But don’t get upset when some takes advantage of that…takes the paid year and then says “oh, I’m leaving, but thanks for the free money”. Just sayin'”
Again, attaching the words “free money” to having children is just absurd. Having children is a lifelong financial commitment. One year of assistance does not alleviate a lifetime of paying to raise a functional member of society. Also, new parents need financial stability so if you want to ensure that someone is returning to work – a new parent is your best bet.
“Simply unfair to non parents. Non parents should have access to the same rights to time off.”
Caring for a newborn does not equal “time off.”
The negative reactions to Netflix’s announcement show us how far we have to go when it comes to supporting families in this country. That anyone would have an objection to a private company spending money to support their employees is confusing at best, and shows what we would be up against if we ever do see a real push for paid parental leave legislation.